UK to get Predator B

#1
DATE:05/09/06
SOURCE:Flight International

UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

By Graham Warwick

Two UAVs to support British operations in Afghanistan as lead-in to Project Dabinett

The UK Ministry of Defence is awaiting US government approval for its planned purchase of two General Atomics Predator B unmanned air vehicles to meet an urgent operational requirement. The development follows UK Treasury permission for funding to be brought forward from the MoD's Project Dabinett long-range, long-endurance intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) programme.

A letter of request has been submitted, and Congressional notification of the proposed sale is expected soon, says Air Cdr Nick Gordon, the UK's director equipment capability, ISTAR. The UK wants to field the UAVs to provide a full-motion video capability to support operations in Afghanistan by May next year. The purchase will include electro-optical/infrared and Lynx synthetic-aperture radar payloads and both line-of-sight and beyond line-of-sight communications equipment. Initially, Gordon says, the UAVs will be operated from the control centre at Nellis AFB in Nevada, where UK personnel are already part of the team operating US Air Force MQ-1 Predators over Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gordon told last week's AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America conference in Orlando, Florida that the Predator purchase will be paid for "in a novel way" that involves bringing forward funding from the Dabinett project to fill a gap in the UK's ISR capability. Now in the concept phase, Dabinett is scheduled for an "initial gate" decision in February 2007, with full operational capability planned for 2017.

Dabinett will provide an "adaptable ISR" capability to include cross-cueing sensors and systems, target acquisition and potentially weapons delivery. Although platforms like Northrop Grumman's RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance UAV are candidates, Gordon says the UK is also looking into the potential for a UAV with a three-month endurance based on hydrogen fuel-cell power technology being explored by Qinetiq. "It's early days," he says.

At full operational capability, Dabinett is to provide "deep and persistent" ISR over enemy territory, which could involve the use of satellites or require a low-observable UAV. "We will have a UAV capability. Equally it may involve overhead capability," he says, adding: "It will be a system of systems approach."
 
#2
UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

What the fcuk is that about? Presumably our money isn't good enough or they fear we represent a terror threat to them.

Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.
 
#3
mukhabarat2003 said:
UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

What the fcuk is that about? Presumably our money isn't good enough or they fear we represent a terror threat to them.

Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.[/quote]

Eh? We haven't designed and built a modern combat aircraft on our own for decades. All US military exports require congressional approval.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#4
mukhabarat2003 said:
UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

What the fcuk is that about? Presumably our money isn't good enough or they fear we represent a terror threat to them.

Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.
If it's any consolation, the USA doesn't do much of its own drone development: all its current stuff comes out of Israeli work during the various wars since 1967 (according to a programme on Discovery or whatever a couple of weeks ago).
 
#5
AndyPipkin said:
Eh? We haven't designed and built a modern combat aircraft on our own for decades. All US military exports require congressional approval.
In fact we haven't designed much of anything on our own for decades to be honest.

Very sad situation.

OK on the info AlienFTM - don't have Discovery Channel.
 
#6
mukhabarat2003 said:
UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

What the fcuk is that about? Presumably our money isn't good enough or they fear we represent a terror threat to them.

Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.
Yeah but then people whine about 'why didn't we buy off the shelf'. BAE have submitted plans for a stealthy UAV to the USA, but were rejected.

In fact we haven't designed much of anything on our own for decades to be honest.

Very sad situation.
Nimrod MR4, Harrier GR9, Hawk, Lynx etc.
 
#8
AlienFTM said:
mukhabarat2003 said:
UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

What the fcuk is that about? Presumably our money isn't good enough or they fear we represent a terror threat to them.

Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.
If it's any consolation, the USA doesn't do much of its own drone development: all its current stuff comes out of Israeli work during the various wars since 1967 (according to a programme on Discovery or whatever a couple of weeks ago).
The Isrealis made the early running in UAV's (the air vehicle in the UK Watchkeeper programme are Israeli designs), but the US designs and builds its own now and has done for a few years. This is especially the case with larger UAV's like Predator and Global Hawk.
 
#9
Crab_Cadet said:
mukhabarat2003 said:
UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

What the fcuk is that about? Presumably our money isn't good enough or they fear we represent a terror threat to them.

Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.
Yeah but then people whine about 'why didn't we buy off the shelf'. BAE have submitted plans for a stealthy UAV to the USA, but were rejected.

In fact we haven't designed much of anything on our own for decades to be honest.

Very sad situation.
Nimrod MR4, Harrier GR9, Hawk, Lynx etc.
Nimrod is based on a 1950's design, Hawk, Lynx and Harrier were all 1970's designs.
 
#10
AndyPipkin said:
mukhabarat2003 said:
UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

What the fcuk is that about? Presumably our money isn't good enough or they fear we represent a terror threat to them.

Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.[/quote]

Eh? We haven't designed and built a modern combat aircraft on our own for decades. All US military exports require congressional approval.

You're forgetting the UK's contribution to the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world - The Typhoon T1 and F2 where we were a bit more than an equal partner.
 
#11
mukhabarat2003 said:
Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.
erm, we sort of did and, ahem, its like in service, Yeah sure it took twice as long and 10 times the price to develop and is shiite in the mountains but its British dammit. Predator was mentioned years ago and disregarded due to a number of issues, I believe being a pilot to fly the thing for one.

Anyway, I thought 18 Bty were on there way to t' stan with that new Desert Hawk malarky for just this reason, yes I know it looks like one of those toys that came sellotaped to the outside of Action or Warlord (launched by catapult for fecks sake) but its still eyes in the air etc, I do have this nagging thought that this is Crab Air trying to buy back a bit of the ISTAR game.
 
#12
Cutsy said:
AndyPipkin said:
mukhabarat2003 said:
UK awaits US approval to purchase Predator Bs

What the fcuk is that about? Presumably our money isn't good enough or they fear we represent a terror threat to them.

Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.[/quote]

Eh? We haven't designed and built a modern combat aircraft on our own for decades. All US military exports require congressional approval.

You're forgetting the UK's contribution to the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world - The Typhoon T1 and F2 where we were a bit more than an equal partner.
The Typhoon is not by a long mark the most advanced fighter in the world. And in any event the majority of it was designed outside the UK.
 
#13
wellyhead said:
mukhabarat2003 said:
Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.
erm, we sort of did and, ahem, its like in service, Yeah sure it took twice as long and 10 times the price to develop and is shiite in the mountains but its British dammit. Predator was mentioned years ago and disregarded due to a number of issues, I believe being a pilot to fly the thing for one.

Anyway, I thought 18 Bty were on there way to t' stan with that new Desert Hawk malarky for just this reason, yes I know it looks like one of those toys that came sellotaped to the outside of Action or Warlord (launched by catapult for fecks sake) but its still eyes in the air etc, I do have this nagging thought that this is Crab Air trying to buy back a bit of the ISTAR game.
I suspect that you refer to the wholly shoite and now retired Phoenix? Desert Hawk is a US design and is a world away from Predator B.
 
#14
Nimrod is based on a 1950's design, Hawk, Lynx and Harrier were all 1970's designs.
Yeah but their all new arent they, don't tell me that MR4 is 1950's or that Flynx is 1970s, or that the World beating Hawk 128, 100, 200 etc are 1970s
 
#15
AndyPipkin said:
wellyhead said:
mukhabarat2003 said:
Why we can't develop our own amazes me, we certainly have the brains.
erm, we sort of did and, ahem, its like in service, Yeah sure it took twice as long and 10 times the price to develop and is shiite in the mountains but its British dammit. Predator was mentioned years ago and disregarded due to a number of issues, I believe being a pilot to fly the thing for one.

Anyway, I thought 18 Bty were on there way to t' stan with that new Desert Hawk malarky for just this reason, yes I know it looks like one of those toys that came sellotaped to the outside of Action or Warlord (launched by catapult for fecks sake) but its still eyes in the air etc, I do have this nagging thought that this is Crab Air trying to buy back a bit of the ISTAR game.
I suspect that you refer to the wholly shoite and now retired Phoenix? Desert Hawk is a US design and is a world away from Predator B.
:wink:

But its still British (gawd bless the queen, meat and two veg, my old mans a walrus etc)
 
#16
Crab_Cadet said:
Nimrod is based on a 1950's design, Hawk, Lynx and Harrier were all 1970's designs.
Yeah but their all new arent they, don't tell me that MR4 is 1950's or that Flynx is 1970s, or that the World beating Hawk 128, 100, 200 etc are 1970s
In fact both MRA4 and FLynx are rebuilds of the original airframes, albeit with a lot of new bits. All of these are re-hashes of old designs. Predator is a new (1990's) design. The UK hasn't designed a new military aircraft on its own since the Hawk in the 1970s.
 
#17
AndyPipkin said:
The Typhoon is not by a long mark the most advanced fighter in the world. And in any event the majority of it was designed outside the UK.
Wrong again..... Company names for the design leads at the time the development contracts were awarded around 1990...

Airframe - BAe (remember the EAP programme?)
Engines - Rolls-Royce, you may have heard of them.
FCS - GEC-Marconi (also did the Boeing 777 on their own)
Radar - Ferranti (trust me, all-British design)
DASS - Ferranti (ditto)

In fact, the Germans wanted to take the ball away in a huff after none of the four major design contracts were led by German companies. Yes, in each case it was a consortium bid, but design lead is the real indicator.

So: please tell us how "the majority" was designed outside the UK; or how this indicates that UK industry is incapable of designing a modern combat aircraft....

PS as regards industrial strength, the SAAB Gripen is an indication of how big a country you need to build your own kit. Even if they did partner with Ferranti for some of the radar, and had Volvo license a US engine design.
 
#18
If Crab air are about to go in for scale models, does this mean that Airfix has been saved?
 
#19
Will predator be RAF or Army operated?
 
#20
All UAVs are not the same ....

Desert Hawk is a model aircraft with a camera, cheap and cheerful but with low range and altitude capability. Has to be within line of sight of the operator (he's carrying the control box) tends to be confined to within visual range of the operator unless you're really, really sure there are no helicopters out there. Join a club in the UK and you can fly the equivalent at weekends.

Phoenix is utter arrse. some sad remnant from the 80's, no other country has designed one with such poor performance. It could manage a few thousand feet altitude in Germany, only get aloft at night in Iraq (colder air) and has no chance whatsoever in Afghanistan (hot and high). Best not mentioned in polite society, like your incontinent Aunty with Tourettes and the speech impediment who's in the home.

Predator is light plane sized and the turbocharged engine version (ie B) can make some quite respectable altitude, albeit not particularly fast. But as persistence is the name of the game that's not an issue.

However, as it flies up high with other air traffic and uses airfields you need a professional aviator in charge (not necessarily a pilot, as traditional hand-eye co-ordination etc is not required). This is not to handle the technology, but so that other airspace users - who are all pilots (funny that) will let you play.

(I've yet to see how the fuss over Watchkeeper controllers will play out but the same forces will be at work. Pre-planned demo in prepared airspace, your Gran could fly it. In Afghanistan with the air full of the ATO - aircrew brevet or forget about it.)

Of course the RAF are playing cap badge politics here - they haven't bothered to tap into the Army's expertise in imagery analysis of Predator ops, presumably preferring instead to start from scratch with their own people.

The DPAs insistence on buying American is also at play - the equivalent European/Israeli system was offered as a UOR three years ago.

Still, Predator does the job and is sorely needed. Personally I'd site a control cabin at Bde HQ rather than at Nellis - no trips to Vegas but far better for the mission as nothing will ever replace face to face liaison.

Edited for spelling.
 

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